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NDL, Emergent Merge To Form Single Middleware Firm

NDL, Emergent Merge To Form Single Middleware Firm

August 18, 2005 | By Jill Duffy

August 18, 2005 | By Jill Duffy
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NDL, the makers of Gamebryo 3D graphics tools and engine, and Emergent Game Technologies (formerly Butterfly.net) have announced that the two companies will merge into one middleware provider. Both companies will now reside under the name Emergent Game Technologies. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed

Emergent Game Technologies is headquartered in Los Angeles (Calabasas), Calif., with product development located in Calabasas, Chapel Hill, N.C. and Walnut Creek, Calif. Sales and marketing is based in Chapel Hill and a sales office will open in Europe later in the third quarter. Emergent is aggressively hiring software developers at all three of the company's U.S. sites.

John Austin, president of NDL, commenting on the merger in an exclusive phone interview with Gamasutra, said, “We want developers to have tools to create better games so they can focus on the content creation.” Geoff Selzer, CEO of Emergent, added in comments to Gamasutra that NDL saw eye-to-eye with his company about the implications of the middleware market. “The Renderware acquisition by EA [which happened in 2004, shortly after Selzer became CEO of Emergent], indicated two things. One: it indicated that middleware was accepted by one of the dominant publishers in games … Two: it left a massive hole in the middleware market.”

The decision to join the two companies, and ostensibly fill that hole, was spawned by the desire to be “a broader middleware company,” said Austin. “We really needed to have a broader product offering.”

Though no new product details have been announced, Emergent is planning to release some details at the Austin Games Conference in late October. “I think the industry is going to be pretty excited about the breadth and depth of what we’re going to offer in the next 16 to 18 months,” said Selzer.

When asked about how smaller, independent developers will fit into the middleware market, Selzer said, “I think you’ll see some creative business models out there that will enable the not-so-well-funded developers” to stay in business. Austin added that the “key visible customers” for Gamebryo “are mid-sized ones that can really take advantage of our technologies,” and include development houses that have at least one strongly established title, such as Firaxis Games (Sid Meier’s Pirates and Civilization IV), Bethesda Softworks (Oblivion, scheduled for release on Xbox 360), Mythic (Dark Age of Camelot), and Irrational Games (Freedom Force).

“People are going to start seeing that we’re not just looking at middleware but tools … not just providing middleware, but evolving into providing a pipeline,” said Selzer, who went on to say that the company is planning Emergent’s “rapid expansion in Europe and Asia.”

Talk of pipelines, as opposed to specific tools, suggests that now more than ever before, game developers are concerned with workflow, and possibly creating a standardized development method, if only to keep a firm handle on larger teams, multi-million dollar projects, and entertainment technologies that evolve at staggering speeds.

“The industry is terrified of that word, ‘standardized’,” Selzer said. “The need for standardization falls into the fact that the industry is maturing. What comes out of that [for Emergent] is, yes, we believe in standardization, but we also believe that standardization is going to mean something else in each studio.” Selzer concluded that “modular solutions” were the way of the future—or at least the way of Emergent’s future. “Flexibility is going to be one of the keynotes,” he said. “We don’t want to confine. We want to support.”


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